Founded in 1882, the German watchmaker Hanhart is best known for its pilot’s watch collection, the Pioneer line, which currently includes 10 models. Perhaps you’ve heard of the name Hanhart before but, like me, you may have become a bit more familiar with the brand when it re-issued the 417ES model, a historical reference from the 1960s that was only issued to German pilots. Before re-issuing the 417ES, however, the brand released the Mk 1 and Mk 2, direct descendants of the Caliber 40 released in 1938. The Mk 1 is a monopusher chronograph, while the latter has a more traditional configuration. Both models come with a black or off-white dial, and Hanhart just announced a Reverse Panda variant.
The Pioneer line offers models that come in with different case diameters, starting at 45mm. The Mk 1 and Mk 2 come with a smaller case diameter of 40mm, complemented by a lug-to-lug distance of 49mm, a thickness of 15mm, and a lug width of 20mm, making these chronographs modest in size. Both models showcase a straight case construction with thin, elongated lugs that turn down towards the wrist. Finishing on the case shows a predominance of satin surfaces with the exception of the edges of the caseback, which are polished, as well as the pushers and fluted bezel. The latter is of the bi-directional variety and displays the signature red mark, making it possible to time events up to 60 minutes.
The overall prewar dial designs of the Mk 1 and Mk 2 are legible even though they display quite a few types of information. Starting from the dial’s periphery, we see a fully graduated minute track with Arabic numerals marking the five-minute intervals. Moving closer to the dial, we find moderately sized and legible numerals painted on the glossy black dial, marking all hours except for 3 o’clock and 9, making space for the two sub-registers. The large cathedral hands come with generous sections of Super-LumiNova that glows green in low-lit conditions. It is relatively easy to read the time on the Mk 1 and Mk 2 given that the hour hand reaches all the way to the Arabic numerals and that both the minute and second hands reach all the way to the minutes track.
Further aiding the legibility is the clear layout of the two sub-registers. The right one is a 30-minute totalizer, while the left one displays the running seconds. Both have fully graduated tracks, and only the rightmost register shows color in the red hand, which echoes the red accent of the main chronograph hand, the mark on the bezel, and the iconic red ceramic pusher. Furthermore, neither sub-register shows the typical radial finish of chronographs, removing any potential visual distraction from reading the time on the 30-minute sub-register. (The black and white versions do have a radial finish.)
From a mechanical standpoint, both models are equipped with the robust ETA 7753, which beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 27 jewels and 42 hours of power reserve. The movement on the Mk 1 was modified in-house to be a mono-pusher. The only difference between the Mk 1 and Mk 2 is that starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph all happen with that one pusher on the Mk 1.
Setting the time is easily achieved thanks to the oversized crown that comes with deep knurling, which is a remnant of the times when pilots had to operate the watches while wearing gloves. The star of the show with this new release is the fact that both models now come in a Reverse Panda variant. Until then, both the Mk 1 and Mk 2 would come with all-black dial and off-white dials. The Reverse Panda differs from the two other colorways, as it highlights the two sub-registers that are an integral part of the chronograph design. However, having white sub-registers is the only difference between these new releases and the already existing models, as we saw that otherwise the dial, construction, and dial layouts are the same.
All in all, the Mk 1 and Mk 2 are modestly sized chronographs that pack a lot of vintage charm and distinct Hanhart design trademarks such as the red ceramic chronograph pusher and the red mark on the fluted bezel. The Pioneer collection, therefore, remains deeply rooted within the brand’s catalog of iconic references. This catalog is a little bigger now that the Mk 1 and Mk 2 can be had with a Reverse Panda dial variant. The Mk 1 is priced at €2,090 EUR, and the Mk 2 at €1,990 (including VAT for those who live in the European Union.) For more information, please visit Hanhart’s website.